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Was the Jobs Report an “All Clear” on the Economy?

What’s in Today’s Report:

  • Was the Strong Jobs Report an “All Clear” on the Economy?
  • Weekly Market Preview:  What Happens on December 15th?
  • Weekly Economic Cheat Sheet:  A Busy Week or Reports (They Start on Wednesday)

Futures are slightly lower as markets digest Friday’s big rally following a generally quiet weekend.

On U.S./China trade, there was no new news, although China released a statement saying it wanted to make a deal “as soon as possible.”

Economic data was again mixed, as Chinese exports missed estimates (1.3% vs. (E) 1.9%) while German exports beat expectations (1.2% vs. (E) -0.3%.  But, neither number is moving markets.

Today there are no notable economic reports and no Fed speakers (they are in their blackout period ahead of Wednesday’s decision) so focus will again be on any updates on U.S./China trade.

The December 15th tariff increases are the last “big” event of 2019 and markets fully expect those to be delayed, so any confirmation of that should be a mild tailwind on stocks.  Conversely, any hints the tariffs might go into effect will hit markets, potentially hard.

Technical Update (Key Support and Resistance Levels)

What’s in Today’s Report:

  • Technical Update (Key Support and Resistance Levels to Watch)
  • Jobs Report Preview (Still a Very Important Report)
  • EIA/Oil Market Update

Futures are modestly higher mostly on momentum from Wednesday’s rally, following a quiet night of news.

On trade, China’s Ministry of Commerce said the two sides remained in close communication, but we already knew that and there were no new/notable trade headlines overnight.

Economic data was notably bad.  EU Retail Sales, German Manufacturers’ Orders, Australian Exports and Australian Retail sales all badly missed expectations, and while you wouldn’t know it according to stocks, the outlook for the global economy remains uncertain.

Today there is just one economic report to watch, Jobless Claims (E: 220K) and one Fed speaker: Quarles (10:00 a.m. ET).  So, as has been the case all week, markets will trade-off any new U.S./China trade commentary or headlines.  But barring negative news, the path of least resistance for stocks today appears higher once again.

No Trade Deal?

What’s in Today’s Report:

  • What Happens If There Isn’t a Trade Deal

Futures are rebounding modestly this morning mostly thanks to a positive trade article by Bloomberg overnight.

The article said Trump’s comments about having no deadline for a China trade deal yesterday, which sent stocks tumbling, were “off the cuff” and that a deal is still likely.

Meanwhile, Service PMI data in China and Europe beat expectations and U.S. legal sanctions against Chinese nationals for human rights violations are not expected to affect trade negotiations.

Looking into today’s session, there are two key economic reports to watch: the ADP Employment Report (E: 156K) and the ISM Non-Manufacturing Index (E: 54.5). And based on the market’s negative response to the soft ISM report on Monday, the has the potential to move stocks.

There is also one Fed official speaking today: Quarles (10:00 a.m. ET), but Fed policy is largely on the back burner right now as no changes in interest rates are expected anytime soon which will leave the market primarily focused on any new developments in the trade war.

Are All the Bulls’ Eggs in One Basket?

What’s in Today’s Report:

  • Are All The Bulls’ Eggs in One Basket?
  • Weekly Market Preview
  • Weekly Economic Cheatsheet

Futures are marginally higher as better than expected economic data is being offset by some confusion on trade.

Global manufacturing PMIs were better than expected as the Chinese (50.2 vs. (E) 49.5) and Euro Zone (46.9 vs. (E) 46.6) readings beat estimates and furthered the idea that the worst of the global slowdown is over.

On trade, headlines were mixed as Axios reported the Dec. 15 tariffs will be delayed (a positive) although a somewhat hawkish Trump trade tweet this morning is weighing on sentiment (Trump reinstituted steel and aluminum tariffs on Brazil and Argentina and that’s causing an uptick in general tariff anxiety in the market).

Today focus will (of course) remain on any trade tweet or headline, while the key economic report is the ISM Manufacturing PMI (E: 49.4), and the stronger the number, the better.

Will the Hong Kong Bill Hurt U.S./China Trade Talks?

What’s in Today’s Report:

  • Will the Hong Kong Democracy Bill Hurt Trade Talks?  (No – Here’s Why)
  • What Wednesday’s Strong Economic Data Means for Markets

Futures are modestly lower following the Thanksgiving holiday due to a mild uptick in trade concerns after President Trump signed the Hong Kong democracy bill.

President Trump’s signing of the bill drew criticism from China, but multiple media outlets, including the WSJ, are reporting the law won’t de-rail trade talks.

Economic data was again underwhelming as Japanese IP and German Retail Sales both badly missed estimates, although that’s not impacting markets as focus remains almost exclusively on U.S./China trade.

Today there are no economic reports, no Fed officials are scheduled to speak and the NYSE closes at 1:00 p.m. ET.  So, barring any U.S./China trade headline surprises, it should be a typically quiet post-Thanksgiving trading session.

Yield Curve Update: Negative Trend Break

What’s in Today’s Report:

  • Bottom Line: Did Something Good Happy Yesterday?
  • Yield Curve Update: Negative Trend Break

Stock futures are little changed this morning as investors digest new Fed chatter and more trade war jawboning.

Fed Chair Powell said he saw the “glass as much more than half full” regarding the current expansion and reiterated that rates will remain unchanged until inflation rises materially.

U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators spoke on the phone overnight to discuss “core issues” and reported that they have reached a “common understanding on resolving relevant problems” but no concrete progress was made and the status of phase-one remains unknown.

There are a few potential catalysts to watch today including economic releases: International Trade in Goods (E: -$70.0B), S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller HPI (E: 0.3%), New Home Sales (E: 707K), and Consumer Confidence (E: 126.8) as well as one Fed speaker: Brainard (1:00 p.m. ET).

Additionally, there is a 5-Year Treasury note auction today at 1:00 p.m. ET and with the yield curve coming back into focus, any wild swings in the belly of the curve could move stocks (remember we want to see the 10s-2s steepen due to a rising 10-year yield).

Aside from those scheduled events, speakers and reports, the market will clearly remain very sensitive to anything regarding the relationship between the U.S. and China as the trade war remains the single most important influence on this market right now.

Why Markets Are Still So Resilient

What’s in Today’s Report:

  • Why Markets Remain So Resilient
  • Weekly Market Preview (Still All About U.S./China Trade)
  • Weekly Economic Cheat Sheet (Wednesday is the Key Day This Week)

Futures are modestly higher on more positive U.S./China trade chatter.

China increased the penalties for Intellectual Property (IP) theft, addressing part of a key U.S. trade demand, while the Global Times (a state-run Chinese paper) said the sides were “very close” to a deal.

Economically, data was mixed but better than October.  German IFO Business Expectations rose to 92.1 vs. (E) 92.5, while British Distributive Trades rose to –3 vs. (E) –10.

Today there are no notable economic reports so the focus will remain on U.S./China trade.  Any incremental positive chatter will be a tailwind for stocks, although the Hong Kong democracy bill remains a wildcard.  If Trump signs it (which he’s expected to do), that could temporarily hit U.S./China trade sentiment, although it’s not a material negative.

Finally, Fed Chair Powell speaks at 7:00 p.m. ET but he’s not expected to say anything too incremental.

Making Sense of Wednesday’s Trade Headlines (That Caused the Selloff)

What’s in Today’s Report:

  • What to Make of Wednesday’s Trade Headline (That Caused the Selloff)
  • What Does Escalating Trade Noise Mean for Markets Into Year-End?

Futures are little changed as markets digest yesterday’s potentially negative U.S./China trade headlines along with more headlines overnight, as the trade noise grows louder.

The trade headline whiplash continued overnight as Chinese Vice Premier He said he was “cautiously optimistic” about a phase one deal being signed.  This is helping, somewhat, to counter yesterday’s headline about a deal slipping into 2020.

There were no economic reports out overnight.

Today there are some important economic reports, but the biggest issue today will be whether President Trump signs the bill passed by Congress supporting democracy in Hong Kong (if he does, that could complicate trade talks).  He is expected to sign the bill, although that’s not a high conviction expectation.

Looking at actual economic data, we have two important reports today, Jobless Claims (219K) and Philadelphia Fed (E: 7.5) and one housing number, Existing Home Sales.  As has been the case, the stronger the data, the better for stocks.  We also have two Fed speakers, Mester (8:30 a.m. ET) and Kashkari (10:10 a.m. ET), but neither should move markets.

Clearing the Trade War Fog

What’s in Today’s Report:

  • Clearing the Fog: Where Are We on U.S.-China Trade?

U.S stock futures are trading lower and international markets saw broad declines overnight thanks to escalating trade tensions between the U.S. and China.

The Senate passed a bill late Tuesday in support of the Hong Kong protests to which the Chinese Foreign Ministry has issued a strong statement of disapproval for.

Additionally, Trump threatened higher tariffs at a cabinet meeting yesterday and the combination is weighing on sentiment.

There are no economic reports today and no Fed officials scheduled to speak but the minutes from the October FOMC Meeting are due out at 2:00 p.m. ET which will be closely watched for further clues on the Fed’s future policy plans.

The trade war is still dominating markets right now so investors will be watching for any rebuttals from the U.S. regarding China’s negative response to the “Hong Kong bill” or any additional talk of future tariff policy from either the U.S. or China.

Yield Curve Update: Critical Levels to Watch

What’s in Today’s Report:

  • Yield Curve Update: Critical Levels to Watch
  • Housing Market Index Takeaways

Futures have steadily melted higher overnight, tracking risk-on moves in most international markets on optimism for more Chinese stimulus and improving investor sentiment towards the trade war and health of the global economy.

Over the past two weeks, the PBOC has lowered its “one-year medium-term lending facility” and its “seven-day reverse repo rate” increasing the odds that the Chinese central bank provides further stimulus in the near-term.

Looking into today’s session, the list of potential catalysts is limited as there is just one economic report due to be released: Housing Starts (E: 1.320M) and one Fed official scheduled to speak shortly before the bell: Williams (9:00 a.m. ET).

Home Depot reported underwhelming earnings this morning as they slashed their sales forecast which will likely be a topic of discussion today but so far, stock futures are largely shrugging off the sharp drop in HD shares.

With the trade war still the markets primary focus, stocks will remain sensitive to any headlines, positive or negative, regarding the phase one deal and potential for tariff relief.